MTN and partners, including China Mobile Communications Group, have developed an entry-level smartphone costing just $20 (about R290) in a bid to boost internet penetration across its 22 markets. Largely due to the high cost of entry-level data bundles and smartphones, only about a third of MTN’s 225-million subscribers in the Middle East and Africa used the internet regularly, group CEO Rob Shuter said in Cape Town on Tuesday. Africa’s biggest mobile phone operator is aiming to sell about 10-million of the devices over the next three years. Moving that many of its existing customers from basic handsets would be "a major boost for internet penetration", Shuter said. Mobile operators are trying to grow internet traffic partly to offset a long-term decline in voice revenues. Smartphone ownership in Africa remains well below the global average. According to a study by Pew Research Center, 51% of adults in SA owned smartphones in 2017, falling to 32% in Nigeria, 30% in Kenya, and just 1...

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